Tag Archives: cleaning

So Fresh, So Clean

July 17, 2015 by

This article appeared in July/August 2015 Omaha Home.

Your home is your fortress and keeping it clean is a breeze when you’re armed with these dust-busting tips. Keep a sparkling presence both inside and out of your home to make every day of life but a dream. OmahaHome

Have the Proper Tools

Having a well-stocked cleaning caddy can make all of the difference. To fit the bill you will need the following: a window cleaner, a household ammonia for floors, a nonabrasive cleanser for general cleaning, a dilution of 4 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach for disinfecting, a feather duster, sponges, paper towels and rags, oil soap for wood cabinets, and latex gloves.

Curtains

Make that Marble Shine

Clean with a spray bottle containing warm water and one tablespoon of non-abrasive dish soap. Never use vinegar or lemon juice. The acids can cause etching. Wipe off with a hot, wet dish towel, taking care not to scrub. Lastly, buff immediately with an absorbent towel or chamois. A pool of water on the surface can leave a stain. And don’t let orange juice, wine, or coffee cup “rings of death” hang around for too long as marble surfaces stain quickly.

Curtains Closed

Mildew can be an unsightly friend in the shower. Prevent mold growth by occasionally tossing your vinyl or synthetic liner in the washing machine with laundry detergent and bleach

Flowers

A Room Full of Blooms

Prevent your flowers from getting sour. Add ¼ of teaspoon of bleach to each quart of water in the vase and your beauties will stay fresh and lovely, as they are intended.

Gloves

See Spots Run

To remove a stain from a marble countertop, apply a poultice made with baking soda and water, or flour and a non-abrasive dish soap. It should be the consistency of a thick paste. Apply to the surface then cover the area with plastic wrap. After 24 hours, lift the plastic wrap and use a damp cloth to wipe away the poultice. If the area is still stained, repeat the process. For grease spots, sprinkle corn starch and allow it to absorb for 20 minutes. Wipe away with a damp cloth.

Floor Cleaning

Wood Laminate Flooring

To prevent scratches that can occur from a buildup of excess hair and dirt, use a dry dust mop every few days. Do not use soap-based detergents or “mop and shine” products as they can leave a dull, luster-killing film. For a more in-depth cleaning, fill a bucket with hot water and add two tablespoons of baby shampoo or a mild liquid dish detergent. Scented or dyed dish detergents can damage the laminate or cause streaks. Soak and thoroughly wring out a mop. Excess water can distort your laminate flooring. What about those scuff marks? A common pencil eraser is your best friend here.

Pets

Pet Hair, Beware

Vacuuming up pet hair doesn’t quite do the trick. Use a long-handled window squeegee on your carpets. The rubber will loosen the embedded hair. Next, collect the clumps that accumulate. Repeat until all hair has vanished.

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Your Garden Glory

April 9, 2015 by

Originally published in March/April OmahaHome.

Mother nature is warming things up outside, which means it’s time to dig out those boots and gloves and get to work preparing your garden and outdoor living spaces for those heady, bountiful days to come. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Indoor Prep Work

To kick-start your spring color, cut branches of forsythia, crabapple, and spirea to place in a bucket of cool water inside. Leave in a cool area of no more than 60 degrees until buds show color. Snip and display in your favorite vase for an instant, preseason pick-me-up.

Grab some paper cups and your kids or nearest tiny relative and show them the wonder of starting seeds. Their eyes will delight in the wonder of the bursting of that first tiny sprout. Ideal veggies for home germination include basil, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chives, leeks, peppers, and tomatoes. Make your own seed-starting mix with a blend of equal parts perlite, vermiculite and peat. To neutralize the acidity of the peat, add ¼ teaspoon of lime to each gallon of the mix.

Clean up the Clutter 

Around the third week of March, clean your lawn of any debris like rocks and sticks (or annoying blow-away garbage from your neighbors, as is all-too-often the case here in the big O). Prep the beds by removing winter mulch. Prune fruit trees, shrubs and ornamental trees before buds begin to break. Later, prune spring flowering shrubs as soon as they finish flowering.

Early Spring Planting

Cool season veggies, like peas, onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces can be planted now. Just make sure not to work the soil when wet. Raspberries should also be planted in early spring as soon as the soil is dry and workable.

Survey the Scene

Check conifers and broadleaf evergreens for signs of winter injury. To control aphids, apply a soil drench treatment of imidacloprid on deciduous and evergreen trees. A March application will be effective against insects and will last all year.

Spread the Love, Garden-Style 

Share with your friends by dividing perennials before spring growth has begun. Who doesn’t
love the gift of greenery?

Keep a Record

Pick out an adorable journal that expresses your inner gardening diva and keep a record of all of your gardening information. Make a list of each item you have planted in the garden, and create a schematic to remember where everything is. Make sure to include seed companies, plant name, variety, planting date, and harvest date. Maintain a record of how well each plant does during the growing season. If any variety is prone to disease, record what was used to treat the problem. You will thank yourself next gardening season for keeping these handy records at your fingertips.

Thank you Berry Much 

Give established strawberry plants a dose of fertilizer before new spring growth starts.

Make Your Beds

Mama told you that if you make your bed you’ll have a great day. Transfer that wisdom to your garden by picking out flats of your favorite bedding plants such as begonias, geraniums, lobelia, busy lizzie, petunias, rudbeckia, California poppy, antirrhinum, and cosmos.

Revive Bulbs

Soak any bulb-like plants that are starting to shrivel. Put them in water for a short time to allow for plumping. Weed out dead blossoms from spring-flowering bulbs. Discard any rotted bulbs among your dahlias, gladiolas, elephant ear, caladium, tuberous begonias, and cannas.

Fixer-Upper 

Check your deck and lawn furniture for needed repairs or re-painting to make sure that your outdoor living space is ready for all of that entertaining you resolve to do this year. Search for the perfect
outdoor party treats on Pinterest. Bring on the guests!

For the Birds

Birds will now start looking for places to nest, so set those birdhouses out and keep an eye out for your newest fine-feathered friends to come calling.

Mid-Spring Mulching

Applying mulch now will cut down on your summer weeding time. The best mulches are compost and rotted wood chips. Buy only what you need. A yard of mulch will cover 300 square feet when spread an inch thick.

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Spring Cleaning

Originally published in March 2015 HerFamily.

While most are eager for the weather to warm up in time for St. Patrick’s Day (and the green beer, sure), I’m more into the holiday’s theme of ridding the country of evils. It’s time to purge, y’all.

I’ve been hibernating for six months under a blanket in front of the fireplace. All I see here is an intense accumulation of clutter tucked in the corners out of my usual visual paths as I traverse my house.

I finally get up and start the purge.

“Who’s beach towel is this?”

“I think Bobby left it here when we had that slip-n-slide party,” one of the kids says to me while walking out of their scarf, gloves, hat, sweatshirt, and shoes, which leaves a trail marking my imminent demise from slips and falls. (If I fall and am lying there unconscious, interrogate my kids first).

“The slip-n-slide party? That was five years ago!” I respond.

“Yeah, I think Bobby moved to Alaska,” comes the retort, which was both informative and confirmation that we had a right to be embarrassed.

“Well he doesn’t need this beach towel anymore.” Once the snow melts, the purge involves three or four trips to Goodwill.

It’s funny that, when you’re trapped in your house long enough due to subzero temperatures, you start looking at the walls a little differently.

“Is it me, or is our kitchen less sage green and more My Little Pony Minty Green?” I ask my husband.

Before he can assure me the pastel shade of green is fine, I’m off getting paint. You can’t go wrong with a color called “Chocolate” for the kitchen, right?

My family isn’t very supportive of my winter stir-crazy hobby of purging. This year for Christmas, the kids asked Santa for locks on their doors in an effort to protect their belongings from Mom’s annual campaign.

It’s inevitable that, about five years after I give something away, one of my kids wants to know where it went. I’m sorry your 2005 Lego set is gone. My bare feet just couldn’t take it anymore.

Just as St. Patrick rid Ireland of all the snakes, I’ve secretly celebrated my own sainthood as I’ve shooed all of my clutter away.

Oh, but then you realize that even saints can’t always win the clutter battle. The cat barfs up a hairball. My son walks by and touts “If only we still had Bobby’s beach towel to clean this up!”

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Garage Sales

March 25, 2013 by

Spring cleaning is a yearly tradition for most households, and while we all have shopped our fair share of garage sales, a lot of people don’t know how to host one. Here are a few tips and tricks for having your own:

  • Advertising is key. Make large, sturdy signs with arrows pointing the way to your sale.
  • Use the newspaper or Craigslist to reach the masses about your sale but also keep in mind sites like garagesalefinder.com, where people can search garage sales by zip code or city.
  • Price items in advance with readable, easy-to-remove stickers. For example, blue painter’s tape won’t take off finish or leave sticky remnants behind.
  • Organize items by category (clothing, housewares, etc.). For clothing, hang and organize by size and gender.
  • Sell clean items only.
  • Hold your garage sale on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • If your garage sale happens on a warm weekend, keep a cooler of soda and water nearby to sell to shoppers for $.25. Encouraging kids to run a lemonade stand is also a great idea.
  • Get more change than you think you’ll need. Many shoppers get paid on Friday and will usually have bigger bills.
  • If you don’t have a lockable safe for your garage sale change, have someone always watching the money or keep it on you in an apron.

After the success of your garage sale, the house will be clean. And with the extra cash, hosting a cookout or throwing a party will be a great reward!

 

Spring Cleaning

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s that time of year again. Spring cleaning not only applies to our homes but to our vehicles as well. After the long winter, it’s time to give your vehicle some TLC. After all, the best way to avoid having to spend a lot of money on your vehicle is by doing regular upkeep.

All of the sand, salt, and other chemicals that are thrown on the streets during the winter can really wreak havoc on your vehicle. To begin with, an extremely good wash is in order. This doesn’t just mean rolling through a carwash on your way home from work. That will not get the areas that are in desperate need of cleaning.

It’s extremely important to clean underneath your vehicle as well. That’s where the majority of all of the gunk is hanging out. Also, the wheel wells need to really be cleaned and scrubbed. This is a prime spot for rust to start. Open your doors and make sure that you clean the door jambs, where the hinges are, and the bottom of the interior door. This is another place that salt and chemicals hang out and can begin to create rust issues. Anything that can be done to prevent the beginning of rust needs to be done. Once it starts, there aren’t a lot of great options.

After giving your vehicle a good wash, paying close attention to all the “hot spots,” you should be in good shape to begin the spring. My last advice is that if you notice your vehicle driving a little funny, pulling one way or another, you may need an alignment. The potholes can create this issue very easily, and it’s better to get it taken care of right away than to drive around with your alignment off. One result of driving with your alignment off—it can wear your tires unevenly, possibly causing you to need new tires.

Vinyl Siding 101

February 25, 2013 by

Home improvement season is fast approaching! The warm weather pushes us to get outside and take care of those much-needed home improvement projects.

If your list of projects includes painting your house or updating the exterior of your home, vinyl siding could be your solution! There are many benefits to installing vinyl siding on your home:

  • Maintenance: Vinyl siding is virtually maintenance-free. It eliminates the task of painting your house year after year. It’s easy to maintain and clean, often with just soap or water.
  • Durability: Vinyl siding is durable and built to withstand the change in temperatures that Omaha experiences from season to season. It is manufactured to expand and contract with the changing weather conditions.
  • Appearance: Vinyl siding panels come in longer lengths to help give a more “seamless” look to your home. Vinyl siding comes in many different style and color options. Many manufacturers now have software that enables you to upload a photo of your home and allows you to change the style and color to envision what your home could look like.
  • Cost: Vinyl siding is a cost-effective way to improve the look of your home. It is also a means of reducing your energy costs. Many vinyl siding brands are pre-insulated to help with energy efficiency.

For more information about vinyl siding and other home improvement questions, call 402-502-9300 to request a FREE, no-obligation appointment with a Pyramid Roofing Inc. exteriors estimator.

Keep Your Furnace in Check

December 25, 2012 by

Regular furnace maintenance helps prevent costly breakdowns and keeps your heating system operating at peak efficiency. While a check in fall the ideal time for this service, a thorough check and cleaning now is still very beneficial as there’s still lots of work ahead for your furnace this winter. Here are a few tips you can follow at home to keep your HVAC working efficiently:

Change your furnace filter regularly. Preventing the passage of dust and dirt, furnace filters protect the coils, heat exchanger, and other HVAC components from excessive cycling and overheating due to dust buildup, ensuring maximum equipment life. Enhanced filtering capabilities can be added to your HVAC system to further protect your investment and to improve the quality of your home’s air.

Check for unrestricted airflow. Your furnace needs to “breathe” and access to plenty of clean air is necessary for your equipment to work properly. Be sure that the area around your registers and air-intake vents throughout your house are free of obstructions.

Use your HVAC system to make your home more comfortable in other ways. With a whole-house humidifier, your family will experience less static electricity and less skin, throat, and nose irritation. You can also combat “stale” indoor air, including bacteria, viruses, and odors by installing a UV light inside your home’s central heat and air system.

For more information on HVAC systems and service, visit aksarbenARS.com or call 402- 331-1233.